Kids Can Code with Osmo Coding

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We love using Osmo in our library for makerspace opportunities, centers, and lessons with multiple grades. We’ve had Osmo since it first came out. If you aren’t familiar, Osmo is an attachment for iPad that comes with a base and a mirror that attaches over the camera. There are 5 apps that are used with Osmo. Tangrams allows users to build figures with real tangrams that are recognized on the iPad app through the mirror attachment. Numbers allows users to use both numerals and dots to create different combinations that equal a set number. Masterpiece allows users to draw on paper outside the screen by following tracing lines on the screen. Words allows users to look at a picture and spell a word with letter tiles based on the image. Finally, Newton allows users to create angles to make falling balls bounce and hit a target.


Recently, they released their coding set.

It’s summer for us, so I haven’t had a chance to use the set with a class of students. However, I was able to hand the set to my 6 year old daughter to see how well she could use it straight out of the box. It didn’t take her long at all to figure out how to snap the various coding pieces together in order to get Awbie, the strawberry-eating monster, to find his strawberries and earn seeds to plant.  Osmo coding has several built in tutorials in the beginning to show users which pieces to put together and as the game progresses, there are signs in the game that show how to add together more complex code. One thing I love is that there isn’t just one right answer. Kids can snap together small or large amounts of code to see what happens without being penalized. They can safely advance the character one space at a time or experiment with making Awbie move multiple spaces by snapping on a number.


After a few sessions of using Osmo coding, Alora decided to make a quick video to show off the pieces and how they work.

I will say that Osmo Coding has some glitches to work out. Sometimes when you press the run button, Awbie does not do what you have in front of him. Sometimes he’ll only move one space even though you have multiple commands lined up. Other times, you press the run button multiple times and he doesn’t respond at all. However, even with these glitches that I’m sure will be worked out in future updates, the game is engaging and easy to use. It’s a tangible way to introduce block coding to our youngest learners, as well as older learners too, and build up to online coding in other block coding programs.


I can’t wait to get more sets of coding and explore block coding with our earliest grades in the fall.

Osmo can be purchase at with prices ranging from $75-$145 per set.

Winter Around the World and in Athens, GA: Original Songs and Personal Narratives

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For the past few weeks, 2 classes have been involved in exploring winter right here in Athens, Georgia.  Even though we might associate cold and snow with winter, it isn’t always like that where we live.  Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class and Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class both participated.  You can read about the beginnings of their projects here.  Our work is all coming together with classrooms from around the world on a collaborative Google slide presentation.

Ms. Kelly’s class has been busy in their classroom dividing into groups and building a song about winter.  As a class, they worked on the base beat using beatlab.  Then different groups worked on parts of the song.  Singers created the words and sang them. Clappers used their hands to add rhythm.  Ukuleles strummed chords for another layer.  Instruments such as coffee can drums added even another layer of rhythm.

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Ms. Kelly wrote the words up onto a big chart paper with plenty of visuals for students to follow.  She saved their class beat in beatlab and pulled it up on the library projector.  I used Screencastomatic to record the beat along with our webcam recording the student performers.  Ms. Kelly used dry erase markers to make notes on the beatlab beat for specific groups of students.  She also used a cowbell and her voice to help students know when to come in.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to record multiple times, but we just loved our first take!

Even though we were in love with that version, we decided to try one more time with just an iPad so that we could get some closeup shots of students performing.  We love this version too, but we are including the 1st one in our global winter project with classrooms around the world.

We had some fun shout outs while we were working on our song, including some retweets from Kishi Bashi who was one of our inspirations for our song.

Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class split into groups of 4.  Two students were author and two were illustrators.  After starting their work in the library, they continued to write and draw in class to tell about personal experience with winter in Athens.  They featured things like food, clothing, school, and events in winter.

Each group came to the library with their finished work.  We spread their pages out on tables and took digital pictures of each page.  We then took these and added them to the collaborative Google presentation.

In Youtube, we pulled up the feature where you can record straight into Youtube with your webcam.  We placed each page in front of the webcam and students read their winter personal narratives and facts.  These videos were also embedded on the Google slides.

We look forward to seeing how the rest of the slides turn out as we learn about winter around the world!




#GeniusCon: Topic Selection and Question Development

question development (9)We’ve been having so much fun participating in #GeniusCon.  Haven’t heard of #GeniusCon? Visit this archived webinar to learn more and read the post about our first steps.

After students left the library for our kickoff session, they spent time in class reflecting on our chalk talk, writing in their notebooks, and fine tuning their topics.  Today, they came to the library with their topics ready to work on question development.

We started with an overview of what happened since our last session.  I shared tweets from Sherry Gick, Matthew Winner, Peter Reynolds, and more.  I also told them how their work had been featured in the #GeniusCon webinar.  Their eyes lit up knowing that their work was already making a difference!

I framed our session for the day by talking about how questions help us think about what we need to know about our topics in order to focus our research.  We did a practice session asking questions about a topic that I could do for #Geniuscon:  Teaching all of my lessons from home.   At the moment, I’m not really doing this topic, but I wanted to choose something that might raise some eyebrows, and it really did!  Students began asking questions about my topic, but as we progressed they started to ask questions like “how would you feel if you didn’t see us anymore?” and “what if we needed help with something in the library?” and “Wouldn’t you miss being here?”.  This topic did exactly what I wanted because it allowed us to have a conversation about our chosen topics.  I told them that it wasn’t our jobs to tell one another that our topics aren’t possible, that they’re wrong, or that we need to pick a different topic.  Our job is to push one another’s thinking through questions and to support one another even if it means we disagree with topic choice or we feel personally that a topic is “impossible”.

We spent a bit more time brainstorming questions for my topic with partners.  Here are a few questions that they came up with:

  • What lessons should I teach?

  • Do I know anyone that will be interested in learning from home?

  • How will I do it?

  • How many students will I have?

  • How many lessons from home can I teach?

  • What happens if someone needs help checking out and I’m not here?

  • Why would I want to do this?

  • How would people know how to connect with me?

  • What if the Internet doesn’t work?

Next, students logged into their Google Drive and created a document with their topic listed at the top.  Then, they started a bullet list and began adding their own questions.  After all students were set with their doc ready, we began passing the laptops around the circle and asking one another questions.  Students looked at the topic at the top and read the question already generated.  Then, they thought of what questions they would add to the list for the researcher to consider.  I’ll admit that this part was difficult.  Even with our lively opening, students had a hard time generating questions.  Several adults had individual conversations with students to support their question development.  These conversations were critical.  At different times we had me (the media specialist), the classroom teacher, a gifted teacher, a tech integration specialist, and and early intervention teacher supporting students.  Here are a few topics with the questions generated.

Taking Tablets Home:

  • can we for a week?

  • or for month?

  • what happens if you break it?

  • What do students do if they don’t know how to use it?

  • what happen’s if somone needes one at school and you forget it at home?

  • how long?

  • what if people don’t have internet at home?


More Playground Equipment:

  • what equipment should we get?

  • how much equipment?

  • what   kind?

  • what if there’s not enough space?

  • isn’t it expensive?

  • why do you wont to change the playground?

  • will we be kind on it?

  • is the play ground equipment safe?

  • who would pay for it?

At our closing, students got their own computers back, read their questions, and shared their documents with me.  I told them that it was ok if they didn’t understand a question or if they even disagreed with a question.  We closed by once again asking “Why are we asking questions and not jumping into answers?”  We framed the idea of thinking about what we need to research.  Next, we will spend some time developing a research plan.  We’ll brainstorm where we need to look for answers and begin our search for answers.



It’s Time to Vote for Your Favorite Historical Figure from Black History with Our 2nd Graders!

flipgrid 2nd (7)Second grade has been hard at work.  For the past few weeks, they have explored the art of persuasion, researched 5 historical figures from black history, designed potential US Postage Stamps featuring these historical figures, and writing persuasive scripts to convince an authentic audience that their historical figure is the most deserving of a US Postage Stamp.  You can read more about the beginnings of this project here.  

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Over the past 3 days, students have been coming to the library with their persuasive scripts and stamp designs to record a persuasive commercial using Flipgrid.  This tool, which is web-based or available as an iPad app, allows you to create up to 90 seconds of video in response to a question.  I setup a question for each historical figure that was researched.  To record in Flipgrid, you just need the special code that takes you straight to the question where you will record your message.  I made a sheet of codes and placed them by iPads in the library.  Students entered the library, chose a recording spot, and entered their code.

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Next, they had a few steps to complete in order to create their video.  They had to:

  • Click the +
  • Click “I agree”
  • Take a picture.  Some took a picture of themselves and others took a picture of their stamp
  • Record their video
  • Review the video
  • Submit the video to the grid.  Students had to put their first name, last initial, and an email address.  For speed, I put my own email address in the box, copied it, and then pasted it in each time a student recorded.
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Visit our Smore to watch videos and vote!

Now, students are collectively trying to persuade you to vote for their historical figure.  We have created a Smore to pull all of the information together.  On this Smore, you can visit each set of videos for a historical figure.  Please take some time to listen to the students’ hard work.  If you love one of their videos, click on the heart on Flipgrid which is similar to “liking” something on Facebook.  This will show the students some appreciation for their efforts.  After watching some videos for each person, we invite you think about which historical figure you were the most persuaded to vote for.  Then, use the Google Form at the bottom of the Smore, cast your vote.

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We’ll be asking all students in our school to vote.  In addition, we’ll be posting our Smore to our Barrow Media Center Facebook page and Mr. Plemmons’s Twitter account.  We want as many votes as possible to show students how far reaching their audience is when they put their work out to the world.

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The students have worked so hard on this project.  I can’t wait to tally the results and analyze the data with them.

Visit Our Smore to participate and feel free to share!

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“Same, Same but Different”: Making Connections through Blogging with 2nd Grade

983 miles to Van Meter

983 miles to Van Meter

I’m so excited about the project that two 2nd grade classes are working on right now.  Mrs. Ramseyer and Mrs. Wright’s classes are connecting with Shannon Miller’s 2nd grade students in Van Meter, Iowa.  Right now, our 2nd graders are working on opinion writing.  The idea for this project started there, but it has grown into so much more through email and face-to-face conversations with the teachers and tweets, emails, and Google Docs with Shannon Miller.


Yesterday, the 2 second grade classes came to the library to kickoff the project.  We looked at Google Earth and mapped the distance from our school to Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, Iowa.  It is 983 miles and would take over 15 hours to drive there.  Students were also curious about how long it would take to walk there, so Google Earth showed us it would take about 304 hours!  With the approaching snow storm, I’m not sure I want to try that one!

Next we talked about what it means to blog.  I showed them the library blog and how it is read by people all around the world.  We even looked at the Clustr map showing where our blog readers come from.  I was trying to build their understanding of how large your audience is when you publish your writing online.

The students will use Kid Blog to create their blogs.  This tool allows you to quickly create multiple accounts through an Excel spreadsheet upload.  No email addresses are required.  Then, all students have to do is go to the blog, select their name, and type in their password to type their posts.  We took a look at this, and you should have heard the excitement when they saw that their names were already on the screen.

Writing our paper blogs

Writing our paper blogs

IMG_0016Finally, we had the kids brainstorm with a partner what they might write about in a first post.  We wanted the focus to be “About Me”.  Before we sent them to tables to write, I reminded them of the importance of not including personal information such as full names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.  At tables, each student wrote a paper blog post about themselves.  Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Ramseyer, and I all walked around and conferenced with students on their posts.  We were impressed with how much students were willing to write.  I was reminded of the importance of kids having an authentic audience for their work and how motivating that audience can be to even the most reluctant of writers.

Same, Same but Different will be a theme for our conversations

Same, Same but Different will be a theme for our conversations

Today, we connected via Skype with Shannon and her students.  We read the book Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw.   It was such a perfect book because it pushes the notion that all over the world we do things that are the same but they might look a little different.  During our Skype, we paused and let the kids talk about Iowa and Georgia.  They stepped up to the camera and asked questions about one another about the weather, activities, and school population.  They made several connections to the story.  For example, in Iowa it is about to snow a lot.  It takes a major snow for them to get out of school.  We get snow here in GA, too, but we get out of school if there is just a dusting.  Same, same but different!  As we blog with one anther, it is our hope to share our favorite books and opinions as well as continue to explore the idea of how connected we are in the world even though things might look and sound a little different.  I have a feeling students will continue to say “Same, same but different”.IMG_0028

On Monday and Tuesday, our 2nd graders will type and post their blogs.  We will mail our paper versions of our writing to Iowa so that Shannon’s students can practice commenting on them before they actually comment online.  She will do the same with her students’ writing so that we can practice commenting, too.

IMG_0025From there, we hope to connect some more through Skype and through the continued writing of our blogs.

This is going to be a very rich experience for these students, teachers, and librarians!

Students stepped up to ask one another about living in Iowa and Georgia

Students stepped up to ask one another about living in Iowa and Georgia

Regions of Georgia Commercials

For the past 4 years, I’ve collaborated with 2nd grade on a Regions of Georgia center rotation.  We usually setup one center for each region of Georgia and the teachers and I lead each region.  Over a several days, the students rotate through the stations, and the main goal has been for students to gain more understanding of the regions.

This year we decided to try something new.  As a culminating project, students were placed into groups in every classroom and assigned one of the regions of Georgia.  The goal was for students to work together to create a commercial advertising their region.  They included things like land features, attractions, animal life, plant life, and persuasive reasons to visit their region.

Once scripts were written and a few props were made, students came to the library to record their commercials using the iPads.  Our temporary media center has several small rooms attached to it, so 3 groups at a time were able to record their commercials.  We used students to do the actual filming as much as possible, although a few student teachers and the classroom teachers did some of the filming.

Since our district decided to open Youtube to both teachers and students, uploading the videos took a matter of seconds rather than the hours it took when we would have to download the videos onto a PC, convert the videos to WMV, and then edit the videos in Movie Maker, and upload to Youtube at home.

Instantly uploading the videos also allowed me to show the next classes what the previous class had done.  As they watched videos from their peers, they critiqued them by thinking about what they would congratulate the class on and what they would want to improve about the videos if the groups had a chance to record again.  This surfaced a lot of the reminders that I would have given anyway, but it meant more coming from the active thinking of the students.

This was 2nd grade’s first time using the iPads to film.  It certainly wasn’t perfect, and there were many logistics that could have been better.  However, overall I would call it a success that will hopefully inform the future video projects we do together in 2nd grade.

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Take a look at their work below.

Young Imagineers Digital Workshop

For the past few months, I’ve been working with 20 second graders on a project using Glogster.  These spectrum students have been studying inventions and have taken existing inventions that could be improved upon or invented their own creations.  As part of their study, they talked about costs, benefits, risks, and more.

None of these students had used Glogster before, so I started them out with a brief overview of what Glogster could do.  Then, as I’ve done in other projects, I let them explore.  As students had questions, they were more comfortable asking one of the adults (myself, Ms. Hicks, and Ms. Saxon).  Over time though, we pushed them to begin asking each other questions and sharing expertise with one another.  Students discovered things such as:

  • how to capture audio with a microphone and embed it on their glogster
  • how to use a webcam at home to video themselves talking about what was on their glogster
  • how to search Schooltube and embed a video
  • how to create a photostory and upload it
  • how to scan images of their invention and upload it or use it in a photostory

Each time a student learned something, the other students immediately wanted to do that too.  It was another great example of the power of students collaborating with one another and taking risks in their learning by diving into the unknown and figuring things out.  These students will now go into 3rd grade with a better understanding of how this tool works.  I just finished collaborating with the 3rd grade team and the art teacher on a project that will call upon these students as the experts who will teach the other students in their grade level how glogster works when this project launches next year.

I invite you to check out their work on the Spectrum Webpage.